The VW Scandal Explained

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German car giant VW has admitted to cheating diesel engine emissions in the U.S. through the installation of illegal software. Therefore, its vehicles have appeared to be far less polluting than they actually are. Find out more here.

VW Scandal
Image Source: Pixabay

The Scandal

Who would have thought that the reputation of VW could be tarnished? However, The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) discovered that 482,000 VW diesel cars on American roads were producing up to 40 times more toxic fumes than permitted. And worse yet, the company confessed that it could affect 11m cars globally. 

So, potentially, VW’s flawed vehicles could be accountable for between 237,161 and 948,691 tonnes of NOx emission each year. This analysis is based on mileages worldwide being similar to mileages in the U.S. 

How it Affects the Environment

NOx is a nasty pollutant that doesn’t only affect the planet, but the people on it. In fact, it can aggravate many health conditions, including asthma, bronchitis and emphysema. Research carried out earlier this year linked high levels of NOx to 9,500 premature deaths annually in London alone.

The scandal means that far more NOx emissions have been polluting the air than known. So, just how much more? Well, to put things into perspective, it could equate to all of the UK’s NOx emissions from all power stations, vehicles, industry and agriculture combined. Now, that’s a lot of hidden damage.

What VW Has Said on the Scandal

The American boss of VW, Michael Horn, said “We’ve totally screwed up” whilst Martin Winterkorn, Group Chief Executive stated that his company has “broken the trust of our customers and the public”. Winterkorn, who has been Chief Executive since 2007, has resigned following the scandal.

And although VW has set aside €6.5bn (£4.7bn) to cover costs of almost 500,000 recalls in the U.S., it’s unlikely that’ll be the last of the financial impact. The EPA has the authority to fine a company up to $37,500 (£24,683) for each vehicle that breaches standards.

How VW Were Busted

Independent emissions tests were performed by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), on the VW Passat, the VW Jetta and BMW X5. These vehicles were tested on five routes on similar lines to the EPA simulations: highway, urban, suburban and rural up/downhill driving.

The VW had a dramatically worse emissions performance than expected, whereas the BMW didn’t, so the ICCT ran further tests on a dynamometer. In these situations, the cars successfully passed. It was at this point that the ICCT contacted the EPA.

So, know you know of the diesel engine emission scandal, what are your thoughts on VW going forward? Be sure to let us know by tweeting @PrimoReg. We’d love to hear your views.